“Ava, pay attention. You need to learn these things.”
“I know, but I am waiting for Daddy.”
“He will get back when he can. He won’t be happy to hear you are neglecting your studies”
“I’ll do it, I just wanna keep an eye out.” Ava was constantly looking out the window. “He said he was going to bring something special this time.”
“Ava, everything your father brings is special. He is an expert at finding things.”
“Exactly! I can’t even guess what he might bring this time.” Ava couldn’t sit still all morning and now that the sun was fully up and bright, she could see the path clearly and could hardly contain her excitement of seeing her father again. It had been about 3 weeks since he left with the promise to bring home something special. “Sasha please let me take a break?”
“Alright, 15 minutes and then we go straight back to doing your math.” Ava was off her chair and out the door like her life depended on it.
“That girl misses her father more and more. I think the new baby might be the reason.” Ava’s mother Nancy had walked into the room holding her baby boy. He had been born just before her husband Caleb had lef. The world had changed so much since She and Caleb had joined my mother and I. There wasn’t much left to show this land used to be the Canadian prairies. It looked more like the Pacific Rocky Mountains now. The world had tried to shake us off but some of us managed to survive.
A sudden commotion outside grabbed our attention.
“Something is coming! Something is coming!” Ava, who had run to look down the path, was running back to the house yelling.
“stay here I’ll go see”. I smiled at Nancy. ‘Keep our little treasure safe.”
As I approached Ava she turned and walked back towards the path. “Look down there where the trees are. See one of the trees is moving.”
I scanned the trees below, a good mile away but there it was, a tree moving steadily towards us. I smiled and walked back towards the house. “Keep watching.” I told Ava as I left.
“Is it safe? Sasha, what is it?”
“It’s safe.” I called over my shoulder.
“Nancy?” I called out as I entered the house.
“Here in the kitchen.” She replied
“Caleb is about a mile out. She could see the tree moving along the path.”
“Did you tell her what was coming?”
“Nope.” I grabbed a green bean from the bowl she was working on. As I crunched down the sweet taste brought back memories of my mother. We had planted the beans together. She didn’t get to help with the harvest though. Her health had started to deteriorate the year before. She had taught us all she could about the planting and collecting of seeds. She had taught me everything she knew about medical care and together we wrote a lot of it down. Because of her I knew what to do for Nancy when her baby tried to come breach.
“Sasha, are you listening?” Nancy said
“sorry, I was thinking about mom.”
“I miss her too.” She reached over and patted my hand. “We are going to be busy for the next while, she prepared us well. You will see it’s all going to be ok.”
“What’s going to be ok?” Ava had come in without us noticing. “Is it daddy coming?”
“Things will be a little different here soon.” I said as I put an arm around Ava and hugged her to my side. “You’ll see.”
“I hope it’s good news, I can’t wait. Can I run down to meet daddy? Maybe he needs help up the hill.”
Nancy started to laugh, “Hey kiddo, no one said it was your father coming. How did you get to be so smart?”
“I’ve never seen anyone else, so it has to be daddy.”
“We’ll wait till he’s closer before we walk down to help him, ok?” I said and reached for another bean.
“How about you two help me get things ready instead of snitching beans?” Nancy scolded as She watched Ava copy me and grab a bean.
“I can’t, my hands are dirty.” Ava dashed for the door and got away as quick as she could.
“Don’t leave the property without me!” I called after her.
“She’s so excited, we won’t get her to concentrate on anything.” Nancy had a wide grin on her face. She was excited for her husband to return but also for what he was bring. His last trip had been the longest he had ever been gone, we had all feared he wasn’t returning. When he finally showed up he was full of news and things we hadn’t seen in years.
He had found a small settlement and was able to bring us pears and berries and seeds to plant. The settlement wasn’t doing well and were very willing to dig up the berry bushes, pear tree and pack up all they had but could only do so after the fruit was finished being harvested. So Caleb had said he would return to guide them to our home. The land was big enough to share and there were rooms we weren’t using in the house. We did what we could to prepare ahead. We kept it quiet to surprise Ava. Mostly because we wanted to avoid her million questions. It is amazing how many questions a 7 year old can ask in a short time.
Nancy and I prepared a meal, knowing the newcomers would be hungry and tired when they arrived. Ava kept us informed every few minutes that the tree and her father were getting closer, but still not at the bottom of the hill yet. When they finally were close enough to see, Ava came running in yelling there was a hundred people with her daddy and they had more than just a tree with them.
Nancy and I looked a each other “A hundred people? Ava are you sure?”
“Well, I can’t count them but it’s lots anyway. Come see, let’s go help daddy.” She grabbed my hand and started pulling me.
“Ok, I’m coming.” I walked slow and Ava had run ahead. She stopped and looked back with a huff. Then ran back behind me and started pushing me.
“Don’t go slow. Hurry up!” first pushing me then pulling my arm again. “Why won’t you go faster?”
I laughed and dragged my feet. “I’m too tired, maybe I should lay down and rest.” I stopped and gestured I was going to lay in the grass.
“No, no! Sasha go! Move it missy!” The words her mother used when Ava would not go to bed.
“Ok, I’ll stop teasing. Let’s see what a hundred people look like.” I reached the edge of the property and looked down the hill along the path. There was a goat pulling a wagon with the aid of Caleb and another man. Two others were pushing from behind. It was hard to see but there was another wagon and what looked like 3 people pulling it. Both wagons were full. As they got closer we could see two children walking with them. 9 people were headed towards us with everything they owned.
As Caleb came closer Ava could not contain her excitement. She ran down the hill and right into him almost knocking him over. He managed to hold his ground and not let go of the rope he was pulling. “Here you pull too” he said as he handed Ava the end of his rope. She quickly got in step with them and pulled as best she could.
“Aren’t you a strong girl.” The man on the other side of the goat said.
Ava did not look at him or even say a word. She just kept walking. The goat made a noise and Ava was startled.
“Don’t mind Gabby,” he said, “She just wanted to say hi.”
“What is that daddy?”
“That, my girl, is a goat. Gabby the goat meet Ava, and this is Mason. Gabby is his goat and those two kids behind us are his too. Gregg and Lily.”
“Are they gonna live with us? Is that why Sasha and mommy were cleaning the extra bedrooms?”
“They sure are. Would you be ok sharing your room with your baby brother?”
Everyone managed to make it up the hill and we started to unload the wagons and welcome everyone. There were 3 couples, Andrea and Sean, Chris and Bronwyn and James and Wendy and Mason with his two children. Wendy looked to be about 8 months pregnant. We learned later that Mason’s wife had died in child birth with Lily. When Caleb had shown up and they learned I was trained to deal with birthing, Wendy was willing to leave right then. The others convinced her to wait until they could all make the journey together.
“Wendy I’ll give you an exam tomorrow, after you’ve had a chance to get a good sleep.
“Sounds great, I am exhausted and ready for sleep.” Wendy replied.
We all settled down after our meal and the house was soon quiet. I was the last to crawl into bed after having made sure all the doors and windows were closed for the night. I’m not sure how long I had been asleep but as soon as someone opened my door I woke.
“Sasha? We need you, it’s Wendy.”
“OK, I’m coming.” I rolled out of bed and felt the cold floor beneath me and was soon wide awake. I grabbed a button up shirt and threw it on over my thin t-shirt that was clearly too big for me, but it covered nearly to my knees.
I stepped out of my room and could hear Wendy moan from down the hall. I knew right away she was having contractions. I ran to the kitchen and grabbed the box of supplies I had prepared days ago and headed for Wendy’s room.
Others were emerging from their rooms while some were already in the small room with Wendy. James was sitting beside her on the edge of the bed, rubbing her shoulders. “It’s gonna be ok, just breathe and try to relax like Caleb was telling you.” I looked around to see where Caleb was but he wasn’t in the room.
“Wendy has been so scared this whole pregnancy and Caleb was telling her how his wife Nancy gave birth twice with you there and how you saved her and the baby just days before he left to come get us. The whole trip here he just kept telling her how breathing through it all helped.” Mason was behind me in the hall. “If we had you when my Lily was in labour, maybe she would’ve survived.”
“There are no guarantees Caleb, but I will do my best for Wendy and her baby.” I put the box of supplies down on the dresser and asked everyone to clear out and get some water boiling. Nancy came in and we got Wendy settled on the bed so I could examine her. The contractions were coming hard and fast and she was crying out of fear.
“Wendy, we need you to breathe nice and slow, deep breaths. Crying isn’t going to help you or the baby.” Nancy was speaking from experience. “You can do this.”
Wendy’s fears were gone the moment she was handed her baby all washed and swaddled. It had been an easy birth. “Thank you Sasha. “ She said as I handed her the little pink faced girl. New tears began to fall but this time Wendy was relieved and happy. “We’ll name her Hope.” She said and gently kissed the baby’s forehead.
“I think it’s a perfect name. Hope for our new chapter. Hope for the future and Hope for us all.”
About the author
Life is an adventure and sometimes the adventure is figuring out who you are and why you have learned so many odd skills years before. I think it is time to share my adventures in stories my imagination has been aching to create.